Singing for Christmas in Fountains Abbey


A coldish afternoon.  Evening’s drawing in at Fountains Abbey, and our little choir is due to sing there.  Not in the roofless ruined abbey, but in their former storage area, their cellarium, as vaulted as any church, and as atmospheric, with its wide colonnaded chamber and its vibrant acoustics. Local choirs vie for the privilege of a singing spot there around Christmas, knowing that audiences will be generously appreciative, and that the cellarium will give the very best account of the choir’s music making.  Generally performers choose favourite Christmas carols that the audiences know and love.

Not us.  Our director, Nicky, makes interesting choices.  We sing early carols that the monks themselves might have known, such as the Coventry Carol and Ave Maris Stella.  We sing music known to a secular mediaeval audience – the rousing songs of taverns, feasting and wassailing, such as Gaudete, The Boar’s Head Carol and the Gloucestershire Wassail.

Choir in winter woollies.  It's cold in the cellarium.
Choir in winter woollies. It’s cold in the cellarium.

We sing winter songs from Lapland – a yoik to call the reindeer in, and a seal woman’s lament.  A spiritual, a modern Hungarian take on Alleluia – the variety continues….. but we finish off with a traditional favourite – Ding dong merrily on high.

We’re delighted.  We get through with no disasters, and we’re exhilarated at the way the acoustics of the cellarium enhance our music-making.  The audience pays us pretty compliments.  We want to come back again next year.


Happy New Year to you all.  Let’s hope for a better 2017.



Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

23 thoughts on “Singing for Christmas in Fountains Abbey”

    1. Thanks so much. Music and Lights is on most Sunday afternoons and on holiday afternoons during the Christmas season. It’s fun. Maybe next year? I hope you have good times in 2017


  1. I love the carols at Fountains, but unfortunately we missed them this year. It looks beautiful. We have two new babies to visit in the next few weeks. One in Newcastle, the other in Aberdeen, both girls, Olivia and Emily.
    Best wishes to you and yours, and we hope 2017 brings peace and joy.
    Love from Joyce & John xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your description is so wonderful; in reality it must have been outstanding – and what a wonderful choice of music! Hope this new year is one of strength and resilience, love, joy and positive outcomes for you and your family, Margaret.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: